Former Whitby MP jumps into Toronto mayoral race

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Published April 5, 2023 at 5:19 pm

Celina Caesar Chavannes (left) and Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Amor Mottley

Former Whitby MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes has added her name to the long list of those seeking to fill the recently vacated Toronto mayor’s chair.

Caesar-Chevannes announced her intention to run on April 4 in a video of her attending Toronto city hall to sign the necessary paperwork.

The Mayor’s chains have been up for grabs since Feb. 17 when incumbent John Tory resigned his post amid a scandal surrounding an affair with a staffer. Tory had just been handily re-elected to his third term on Oct. 24 with 66 per cent of the vote.

The nomination period for candidates to enter the race opened on April 3 and saw a flood of candidates throw their names in the ring. On that first day, 26 people filed nomination papers to run. Another three candidates signed on the following day, including Caesar-Chavannes.

The former Whitby MP first ran to represent the since dissolved Whitby-Oshawa riding in a 2014 by-election after the death of longtime incumbent and Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. However, Caesar-Chavannes came in second behind two-term Whitby Mayor Pat Perkins.

The general election was less than a year away though and Caesar-Chavannes defeated Perkins in a rematch to take the MP’s seat for the then-newly redistributed Whitby riding.

Caesar-Chavannes was quickly tapped as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s parliamentary secretary. She spent her first term championing the fight against racism on Parliament Hill.

However, her tenure would prove brief. She told Trudeau she would not run for re-election in the 2019 campaign due to the resignation of then Justice Minister Jodi Wilson-Raybould amid the SNC-Lavalin Affair.

Trudeau was livid with her decision, according to Caesar-Chavannes, who additionally alleged racism and tokenism during her time with the Prime Minister. As a result, she left the Liberal caucus to sit out her term as an independant.

Current Liberal MP Ryan Turnbull took over the riding in 2019. Meanwhile, Caesar-Chavannes turned to writing and released a memoir Can You Hear Me Now? in 2021.

Caesar-Chavannes is up against a stacked list of candidates including;

  • Bahia Abdulsalam
  • Blake Actor, a retired cop
  • Ana Bailão, former deputy mayor
  • Brad Bradford, a city councilor
  • Sarah Climenhaga, a community activist
  • Gordon Cohen
  • Frank D’Angelo, an entrpreneur
  • Phillip D’Cruze, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran
  • Rob Davis, former TTC vice-chair and city councillor
  • Cory Deville
  • Anthony Furey, a former columnist
  • Isabella Gamk, a housing advocate
  • Mitzie Hunter, MPP Scarborough – Guildwood
  • Syed Jaffery
  • Kris Langenfeld, an accountant and frequent candidate
  • Giorgio Mammoliti, former city councillor and Yorkview MPP
  • Josh Matlow, a city councillor
  • Walter Rubino
  • Chris Saccoccia, an antivax conspiracy theorist
  • Mark Saunders, former Chief of Toronto Police
  • Rupica Singh Waraich
  • Knia Singh, a lawyer
  • Sandeep Srivastava
  • Meir Straus
  • Reginald Tull
  • Jeffery Tunney
  • Kiri Vadivelu, a tenant activist, and
  • Jack Weenen, another perennial candidate

Additionally three people have declared interest, but have yet to officially sign up including;

  • Chloe Brown, third-place finisher in the 2022 mayoral election
  • Kevin Clarke, perennial candidate and ninth-place finisher in 2022
  • Gil Peñalosa, urbanist and runner-up in 2022

Former Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow is also considering a run, but remains undecided as yet. An April 2-3 Mainstreet Poll put Chow in first as the most wanted new Mayor at 24 per cent, ahead of Bailão (23 per cent), and Saunders (13 per cent) though not all candidates were listed.

The nomination period lasts until May 12 and Torontonians head to the polls on June 26. The campaign is expected to run the city $13 million. The 2022 general election cost Toronto $14.5 million.

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